Category Archives: Collectables

Banknotes, banknotes, banknotes…

We have, as I noted in the last post, been putting banknotes on eBay.

There are a lot of notes in the shops, ranging from serious notes for collectors to cheap and cheerful bulk lots.

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Austro-Hungarian Empire – early 20th entury

I work with two keen banknote collectors. I always admire enthusiasts, and respect their immense knowledge on the subject, but really can’t get enthused by talk of serial numbers, replacements and security printing. If I was going to collect notes I’d probably collect them by theme, such as notes with pictures of birds on them. I like birds.

However, I prefer burgers, and that would be a very small collecting field.

Republic of Biafra 1967-70 - a short and tragic story

Republic of Biafra 1967-70 – a short and tragic story

Some notes are spectacular, either because of the quality of design, or the history of the note or country. Others are very dull. You will probably see several of each sort in the pictures, though it has to be said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It’s a very simple way of touring the world and it has one advantage over many other forms of collecting in that you can, when handling circulated notes, get a fairly strong whiff of foreign bazaars and sweaty hands.

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Guyana

Years ago I had a delivery of foreign notes in an antique centre and as soon as the wrapping paper came off several neighbouring dealers turned green and ran off spluttering.

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Atmospheric selection of notes from Ghana

So, for atmosphere , circulated notes are the thing to collect. But if you are looking for beauty, collect uncirculated notes.

Bhutan - nice and clean, with dragons

Bhutan – nice and clean, with dragons

A Look at the Coin Business

This is a £20 coin from Gibraltar. The £20 is an unusual denomination which some countries, including the UK, have started using for commemorative coins. You can’t spend it, because nobody will accept it, but they can charge quite a high price for it because of the face value. The silver is worth about £6 and the collectable value is not great in most cases.

It is, in short, a bit of a rip-off.

Don’t be fooled about the legal tender aspect, when you look into it the definition of legal tender is very tightly drawn. It appears that legal tender can be used to pay court costs and fines, but nothing else. Nobody else needs to accept it, even if it is legal tender.

This basically means that the Royal Mint can make coins which don’t have to be taken back. We encountered this problem recently when we tried to pay some £5 coins in at the bank. They informed us that they no longer take them. Normally we pay £5 for a UK coin and most of them go straight to the bank as nobody collects them. We can’t do that now, so we can’t pay £5. People, quite rightly, don’t like that. We now tell them to try their bank or post office to see if they are still taking them.

The same is true for £20 and £100 coins, though as far as we know, no bank or post office will take them. We actually sell £100 coins for less than face value at times. It’s a ridiculous side effect of the modern coin trade. Read this article for an insight into what goes on, but before you do, may I just add to the information they provide. If you sell a £100 coin on eBay for £130 as they say, you will pay eBay and PayPal approximately 15% of the cost in fees, so the £130 immediately falls to £115.

Buy coins because they are beautiful, historical, interesting or educational. Or buy them as a present for future generations. If you want an investment ask a bank manager about it, not a numismatist.

This is the reverse of the Gibraltar coin, which is a lovely design. It commemorates the efforts of the Merchant Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Gibraltar £20 Coin 2016

Gibraltar £20 Coin 2016

Here’s the best value £100 coin on eBay with a Buy it Now offer of £69.99. I just checked all the ones that sold over the last month. There were 12 sold. One made £140. The other eleven all made less than face value.

There is something called seigniorage, which I don’t understand completely. It’s a branch of Economics, which is also something I struggle to grasp. Basically, if it costs the US Mint five cents to produce a quarter they make twenty cents every time someone puts a quarter in their collection. If you produce collectable quarters, such as the State Quarters Series, this can add up. In fact, it adds up to $3 billion. The USA is the best at this, but the Royal Mint is making a big effort to get a piece of the action.

Tomorrow I am planning two more posts, one of which will be to tell you more about this Gibraltar £20 coin. It is very interesting.

 

 

Told by an Idiot…

Sorry about yesterday’s short post, it was cold, I was under the weather and I left myself short of time.

Today it has warmed up a bit and I have more time so I’m hoping this post will be a little longer. I’m still on a light diet but I’m hoping to be back to normal by Monday. It’s nothing serious, and, being digestive, it’s not something you want me writing about in detail.

And, as I sit in the shop hunched over my keyboard and chewing on medication, this is what I’ve been putting on eBay.

Before I get into my stride I’d like to say that if Kylie the Koala and Kenny the Kangaroo were soft toys, fridge magnets or even medallions, I’d think they were a bit of fun, and a nice touch of laid back Australian humour.

But they aren’t, they are on coins.

I’m out of step with modern coins and that these fill a niche in the modern market. I’m not going to run them down, or criticise the people who collect them because all collecting, in my view, is good for the brain, and possibly for the soul. But for £12.95, which is what one of these would cost you, you can get a lot more for your money.

You could buy a delightful 1940 wren farthing with traces of original lustre – this is the year that Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain took place. It’s historical and it’s not easy to find in  this condition, and the beauty of the design (one of my favourite British coin designs) relies on simplicity and elegance, not a big splash of colour. It will cost you £3.25.

For £3.99 you can buy a Picturegoer postcard of a screen star from the days when they really were stars.

If Edward VIII is your cup of tea (as in doomed romantic hero or Nazi-loving playboy, I make no judgement, it’s your money) we have a selection of coronation badges around £6.95. They aren’t rare because they made a lot before they knew the coronation was cancelled.

A very nice, lightly circulated 1950s £1 note could be yours for £11.50. We have a lot of banknotes in the shop because the other two both collect them and are keen members of the local banknote society. That’s the nice thing about a shop like this – you’d never go into a shop to buy bread or toothpaste and be engaged in conversation about them, or be invited to join then relevant society, would you?

Finally, if you can stretch to £19 we can provide you with a rather nice George III Halfpenny of 1806. That’s right, he was mad, he was an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire and he lost America, all that history for just £19.

As for this, you’d think that a manufacturer of hugely successful Formula 1 cars and iconic sports cars would be above this sort of thing.

I know there are worse things happening in the world, but what were Ferrari thinking off?

And who thought it was OK to put lipstick on a Koala?

And finally, a quote from Macbeth –

It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

It explains the title and leads into today’s poem. I often quote the first four lines to Julia. One day I’ll try to learn the other ten. I really ought to do it soon before senility sets in.

Whining Wednesday – Again

I had a letter from the hospital last week. In all the excitement I forgot to tell you. I now have two sorts of arthritis and two joints I’d never heard of before.

I have osteoarthritis, which I already knew without the help of a highly trained medical professional. I also have psoriatic arthritis. This adds a few symptoms (it is apparently the one that makes my fingers swell up) and is a pain to spell. This, as I think I’ve already mentioned, is particularly annoying as, due to a previous poor diagnosis, I’ve only just mastered the spelling of eczema.

There are a number of things I can do to help myself – according to the internet if I lose weight, cut down on fatty foods and sugar and eat more fish and fresh veg this will do me good.

At the moment I’m trying to think of anything that isn’t improved by following this advice. Unless you are allergic to fish and fresh veg this is general purpose dietary advice. It’s as useful as saying that if you want to live a long time you should breathe in, breathe out and remember to wake up every morning.

Incidentally, there’s a link on the internet telling you about the five foods to avoid if you have arthritis. Unfortunately it’s a film and they tell you what the foods are without showing you. This is no use to a  a man with no sound on his computer.

To add to my misery my computer has just started in that mode where it overwrites good stuff if you go back to edit. I forget what it’s called, and even worse, I don’t know how to switch it off.

We went for breakfast this morning. Julia paid. As I’m giving up my day off to act as her taxi driver while she supervises the fitting of a new sheet on the polytunnel, I think this is fair. It hasn’t improved my temper or my views on organisations that can’t organise relief staff, but at least I’m not hungry. After leaving the all I could eat breakfast before I filled myself to the earlobes I am in a good place – comfortably full with a warm glow that comes from having had value for money.

However, this doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven her.

It does mean that I had a good laugh with my food. A family arrived just as I was putting my crumpets through the toaster a second time. They immediately started getting in the way, though I was intrigued to find that the father, who had a lisp, called his son “son” at every opportunity. It’s good to see a man who faces up to a challenge and doesn’t let a speech impediment restrict his behaviour. On the other hand, I did wonder if they could have chosen a better name – it seems the kid is called Zachary.

And that’s not all. They made a big thing about being vegetarian, even down to asking if the vegan sausages were OK for vegetarians. I know vegans have to check if vegetarian food is OK for them but I’ve never heard an enquiry the other way. I started to harbour suspicions about the vegetarian credentials, and intelligence, of this family.

Then we got onto nuts. Was the breakfast suitable to sufferers of nut allergies. The answer was that the breakfast cereals may have had contact with nuts in the factory.

“Oh, that’s alright, a trace doesn’t matter.”

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t an allergy, an actual allergy rather than a fashion accessory allergy, life threatening and triggered by even a trace of the substance in question? I knew a bloke who was allergic to fish. He kissed his girlfriend after she had eaten fish several hours previously and ended up in hospital. That’s an allergy.

When you interrogate the serving staff about allergens and then say a trace doesn’t matter you are actually proving you don’t have an allergy, just a love of hearing your own voice. (As an aside here, I always try never to irritate anyone who will be alone with my food. I think this is a good policy.)

I’ll finish this subject here, as the next 200 words don’t really add much, apart from a heap of abuse about a woman seeking attention.

I’ll finish the post with my new joints. They were listed as SI joints, I’ve heard of SI Units and CV joints, but never SI joints. Turns out they are sacroiliac joints. I don’t really see the point of them, apart from holding my hips and back in place, which I’m sure could be done without extra joints, but, having read about them, I am now quite concerned. Fortunately, mine seem in good shape at the moment.

That’s the trouble with doctors, the more you see them , the more things get looked at until, eventually, you end up with a new problem. Since finding out I had sacroiliac joints I have had them in my thoughts every day.

Gold Medallion - Richard the Lionheart

Gold Medallion – Richard the Lionheart

 

The gold medallions are part of a series from the Cook Islands. They are 11mm in diameter and weigh half a gram.

When these Kings lived they didn’t know that the Cook Islands existed, but that doesn’t stop the Cook Islands and their relentless drive to make money from the international trade in over-priced numismatic items.

I’m sure these coins are all sold out, but have a look if you want to see the depths to which the coin trade has sunk. We had some, but I’m glad to say we sold them before I started work in the shop.

Just a Quick Post

Tonight I decided that I’d be a good husband for once. Not that good, not sensitive or empathetic, or even generous, but I greeted her with a peck on the cheek, a cup of tea and a bubbling stew.

She was, to be honest, a little nonplussed. I may, over the years, have deviated a bit from the romantic ideal of husbandry. As Julia has pointed out, when she took me for better or worse, richer for poorer and in sickness and in health, she had been thinking of them as a list of options rather than a blueprint for the future.

I’ve been sitting by the TV being sociable this evening, though feeling a bit twitchy at times when I’ve wanted the inetrnet to look something up.

However, it’s character forming when you don’t get what you want, so it’s done me good tonight.

Julia muttered something about forming a lot of character over the last thirty years.

At that point I made her a nice milky coffee and sneaked off to blog.

The pictures are Irish 50 p pieces – they only had the two designs – normal and the 1988 commemorative for the Dublin millennium. They didn’t do the small size 50p because they went to the Euro instead. And they don’t have a rash of cheap and nasty commemoratives like us because they have some vestige of self-respect.

They have nothing to do with me being a good husband but it’s the 50th anniversary of the 50p coin and these were the easiest pictures to access.

There’s nowt so strange as folk…

I once bought a collection of 107 owls. They were no bigger than two inches tall, with some being under an inch, and none were by recognised potters. Most of them had been sourced from gift shops or charity shops and as a collection they were a pleasant, if slightly eccentric, thing to look at.

Owls are nice. If it had been a collection of vultures I might have felt slightly different about it.

I tell you this to set the scene relating to another collection we bought recently. It consisted of about ten pound of mint condition decimal copper with a few five and ten pence coins.

Most of them were carefully laid out in plastic bags before being rolled up and taped into ribbons of coins, but a substantial number were individually wrapped. Some were wrapped like sweets but the majority were taped into individual flat packets. Cutting the pieces of plastic from a larger bag must have been laborious, but the effort of wrapping them was Herculean.

And no, we don’t know why he had done it like that. I just assume that he was old and had time on his hands. In those circumstances some of us blog, others wrap coins tightly in bits of surplus plastic and cellophane. Goodness knows what I will be doing in a few years time.

People think that they are protecting the coin but in fact, the chemicals that make up plastic contain a lot off sulphur, which discolours coins. Over the years they have developed plastics that do less damage to coins. AS you can see from the colours of some of these coins, these weren’t wrapped in low sulphur plastic.

Anyway, my job was to remove all the wrappings.

I’ve had more exciting jobs, but I still paid whether I’m excited or not.

 

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Decimal 1/2 p coins – not worth much in 1971 and worth less now

An Interesting King

The coin is a 1 Fils of King Ghazi I of Iraq. Dated 1938 it is uncirculated and still has traces of its original lustre.

King Ghazi was king for only six years but he seems to have packed a lot in – wanting to annexe Kuwait, conducting an affair with a palace servant, having suspected Nazi sympathies and, finally, dying in a car crash which may have been organised by his Prime Minister.

All this sounds very familiar.

Fils is singular, though some coin dealers write 1 Fil. The plural is fulus but in the west we stick to using fils. Unfortunately it’s also French for “son” so you need to be quite precise in your search terms. In French it’s both singular and plural.

The coin is available on eBay for £25, though lower grades are available much cheaper. That’s a good thing about coin collecting – it encompasses all budgets. You can buy some very interesting coins for a pound or two if condition isn’t important. We did that yesterday, selling a coin of Louis XVI like this one, from 1792, to a young collector. It was very worn, but it was £1 and think of all that history!